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Fall Clutter Clearing: Weed Out Cancer Supplies After Active Treatment

A breast cancer and melanoma survivor who also speaks and writes about clutter clearing shares some cancer clutter clearing tips.
PUBLISHED September 05, 2017
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
Clear out cancer paraphernalia to move forward after active treatment. I authored “Clutter Clearing Choices” and “Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools.” Though different topics, I realized the clutter-clearing perspective was helpful for me to create “new normal” (still dislike that term) after my active cancer treatments for breast cancer and later melanoma were completed.

As a cancer survivor, it became important to me to get rid of some of the physical clutter of cancer treatment that had crept onto my refrigerator, into my nightstand, next to my bathroom sink. You get the idea. Getting rid of the visual reminders helped me to move forward and to heal. Your home is your retreat and haven, so make it a relaxing, restoring space rather than a reminder of cancer! So where to begin?

Start with the most visible reminders—like the top of the nightstand and everything else cancer-related that is visible. You don’t want to be reminded of your cancer first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Still, I have always said that sometimes clutter has to come off in layers, like peeling back an onion, and you get to choose how often and how many layers you are ready to work on at any point in time.

After the first pass and more time away from active treatment, dig deeper. Recognize that you may not even want these cancer-related items to take up space in your cupboards, drawers, medicine cabinet or closets. Why do you want to see that pink sweatshirt every morning as you get dressed? Safely dispose of medications. Put things think you might want again if cancer returned in a box—for me this included a couple of wigs and some good reference books.

Don’t let cancer loom over your life moving forward. I literally had my cancer looming over my head in a box in my bedroom closet! This went on for a few months before I wised up. Further out from treatment, I was willing and ready to move that box to a more out-of-sight storage area, like an attic or basement.

Keep the important cancer stuff. Share some things with a cancer newbie if you can. I kept medical records and my expensive wigs and my awesome reference books (though these seem to become quickly dated with time and advances in treatment). For me, part of getting through cancer, was putting the cancer supplies away. You can do this gradually or all at once, but do put cancer stuff away.

Don’t let cancer take more than it already has. Create some emotional freedom for yourself to move forward! Move forward with happier aspects of your life when you can. Yes, cancer was and is part of your life and you can make healthy choices here. Please don’t let cancer have prime real estate in your mind, your heart or your home.


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